Encyclical of Pope Pius XII Promulgated on 15 September 1951
To Our Venerable Brethren,
Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries having Peace and
Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
1. Ever since We were raised, by the design of Divine Providence, to the supreme Chair
of Peter, We have never ceased, in the face of approaching evils, to entrust to the most
powerful protection of the Mother of God the destiny of the human family, and, to this
end, as you know, We have from time to time written letters of exhortation.
2. You know, Venerable Brethren, with what zeal and with what spontaneous and unanimous
approval the Christian people everywhere have answered Our invitation. It has been
magnificently testified many times by the great demonstration of faith and love towards
the august Queen of Heaven, and above all, by that manifestation of universal joy which,
last year, Our eyes had the pleasure to behold, when, in St. Peter's Square, surrounded by
an immense multitude of the faithful, We solemnly proclaimed the Assumption into Heaven of
the Virgin Mary, body and soul.
3. The recollection of these things comes back pleasantly to Us and encourages Us to
trust firmly in Divine Mercy. However, at present, We do not lack reasons for profound
sorrow which torment and sadden Our paternal heart.
4. You know well, Venerable Brethren, the calamitous conditions of our times. Fraternal
harmony among nations, shattered for so long a time, has not yet been re-established
everywhere. On the contrary, here and there, we see souls upset by hatred and rivalry,
while threats of new bloody conflicts still hover over the peoples. To this, one must add
the violent storm of persecution, which in many parts of the world, has been unleashed
against the Church, depriving it of its liberty, saddening it very cruelly with calumnies
and miseries of all kinds, and making the blood of martyrs flow again and again.
5. To what and to how many snares are the souls of so many of Our sons submitted in
those areas to make them reject the Faith of their fathers, and to make them break, most
wretchedly, the bond of union which links them to this Apostolic See! Nor can We pass over
in silence a new crime to which, with utmost sorrow, We want earnestly to draw not only
your attention, but the attention of the clergy, of parents, and even of public
authorities. We refer to the iniquitous campaign that the impious lead everywhere to harm
the shining souls of children. Not even the age of innocence has been spared, for, alas,
there are not lacking those who boldly dare to snatch from the mystical garden of the
Church even the most beautiful flowers, which constitute the hope of religion and society.
Considering this, one cannot be surprised if peoples groan under the weight of the Divine
punishment, and live under the fear of even greater calamities.
6. However, consideration of a situation so pregnant with dangers must not depress your
souls, Venerable Brethren. Instead, mindful of that Divine teaching: "Ask and it
shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you"
(Luke 11, 9), fly with greater confidence to the Mother of God. There, the Christian
people have always sought chief refuge in the hour of danger, because "she has been
constituted the cause of salvation for the whole human race" (St. Irenaeus).
7. Therefore, we look forward with joyful expectation and revived hope to the coming
month of October, during which the faithful are accustomed to flock in larger numbers to
the churches to raise their supplications to Mary by means of the Holy Rosary.
8. O Venerable Brethren, We desire that, this year, this prayer should be offered with
such greater fervor of heart as is demanded by the increased urgency of the need. We well
know the Rosary's powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of the Virgin. By no means
is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, We consider the Holy Rosary the
most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of
this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature. What prayers are better
adapted and more beautiful than the Lord's prayer and the angelic salutation, which are
the flowers with which this mystical crown is formed? With meditation of the Sacred
Mysteries added to the vocal prayers, there emerges another very great advantage, so that
all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to
nourish and preserve their own faith.
9. And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little
and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled
with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the
path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical
formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has
on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings
to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.
10. Let it be your particular care, O Venerable Brethren, that the faithful, on the
occasion of the coming month of October, should use this most fruitful form of prayer with
the utmost possible zeal, and that it become always more esteemed and more diligently
11. Through your efforts, the Christian people should be led to understand the dignity,
the power, and the excellence of the Rosary.
12. But it is above all in the bosom of the family that We desire the custom of the
Holy Rosary to be everywhere adopted, religiously preserved, and ever more intensely
practiced. In vain is a remedy sought for the wavering fate of civil life, if the family,
the principle and foundation of the human community, is not fashioned after the pattern of
13. To undertake such a difficult duty, We affirm that the custom of the family
recitation of the Holy Rosary is a most efficacious means. What a sweet sightmost
pleasing to Godwhen, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent
repetition of praises in honor of the august Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in
common, assembles before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the
parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously
with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with
the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be
there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.
14. Then the home of the Christian family, like that of Nazareth, will become an
earthly abode of sanctity, and, so to speak, a sacred temple, where the Holy Rosary will
not only be the particular prayer which every day rises to heaven in an odor of sweetness,
but will also form the most efficacious school of Christian discipline and Christian
virtue. This meditation on the Divine Mysteries of the Redemption will teach the adults to
live, admiring daily the shining examples of Jesus and Mary, and to draw from these
examples comfort in adversity, striving towards those heavenly treasures "where
neither thief draws near, nor moth destroys" (Luke 12, 33). This meditation will
bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making
love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while,
seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very
early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.
15. We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the
Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times. Not with force, not with
arms, not with human power, but with Divine help obtained through the means of this
prayer, strong like David with his sling, the Church undaunted shall be able to confront
the infernal enemy, repeating to him the words of the young shepherd: "Thou comest to
me with a sword, and a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the
Lord of Hosts, the God of armies . . . and all this assembly shall know that the Lord
saveth not with sword and spear, for this is his battle, and he will deliver you into our
hands" (I Kings 17, 45-47)
16. For this reason, We earnestly desire, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful,
following your example and your exhortation should respond solicitously to Our paternal
exhortation, uniting their hearts and their voices with the same ardor of charity. If the
evils and the assaults of the wicked increase, so likewise must the piety of all good
people increase and become ever more vigorous. Let them strive to obtain from our most
loving Mother, especially through this form of prayer, that better times may quickly
return for the Church and society.
17. May the very powerful Mother of God, moved by the prayers of so many of her sons,
obtain from her only Sonlet us all beseech her that those who have miserably
wandered from the path of truth and virtue may, with new fervor, find it again; that
hatred and rivalry, which are the sources of discord and every kind of mishap, may be put
aside, and that a true, just, and genuine peace may shine again upon individuals,
families, peoples, and nations. And, finally, may she obtain that, after the rights of the
Church have been secured in accord with justice, its beneficent influence may penetrate
without obstacle the hearts of men, the social classes, and the avenues of public life so
as to join people among themselves in brotherhood and lead them to that prosperity which
regulates, preserves, and coordinates the rights and duties of all without harming anyone
and which daily makes for greater and greater mutual friendship and collaboration.
18. Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, while you entwine new flowers of supplication
by reciting your Rosary, do not forget those who languish miserably in prison camps,
jails, and concentration camps. There are among them, as you know, also Bishops dismissed
from their Sees solely for having heroically defended the sacred rights of God and the
Church. There are sons, fathers and mothers, wrested from their homes and compelled to
lead unhappy lives far away in unknown lands and strange climates.
19. Just as We love them with a special charity and embrace them with the love of a
father, so must you, with a brotherly love which the Christian religion nourishes and
enkindles, join with Vs before the altar of the Virgin Mother of God and recommend them to
her motherly heart. She doubtlessly will, with exquisite sweetness, revive in their hearts
the hope of eternal reward and, We firmly believe, will not fail to hasten the end of so
20. We do not doubt that you, O Venerable Brethren, with your usual burning zeal, will
bring to the knowledge of your clergy and people these Our paternal exhortations in a way
which will appear most appropriate to you.
21. Feeling certain that Our sons throughout the world will respond willingly and
generously to this Our invitation, We impart, from the fullness of Our heart and as an
evidence of Our favor and an augury of heavenly graces, to each and every one of you, to
the flock entrusted to each of you and particularly to those who, especially during the
month of October, will devoutly recite the holy Rosary according to Our intentions, Our
Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, the 15th day of September, the Feast of the Seven
Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, in the Year 1951, the 13th of Our pontificate.